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and those of the commons to the lust of the nobility. These, and an infinite number of others like to them, were not right sanctions, but such as have produced unspeakable mischiefs and calamities. They were not therefore laws: the name of justice is abusively attributed to them: those that govern by them cannot be the ministers of God: and the apostle, commanding our obedience to the minister of God for our good, commands us not to be obedient to the minister of the devil to our hurt; for we cannot serve two masters.



OUR author, having for a long time pretended conscience, now pulls off his mask, and plainly tells us, that it is not on account of conscience, but for fear of punishment, or hopes of reward, that laws are 'to be obeyed. "That familiar distinction of the schoolmen," says he, "whereby they subject kings to the directive, but not to the coactive power of the law, is a confession, that kings are not bound by the positive laws of any nation, since the com

pulsory power of laws is that which properly makes laws to be laws." Not troubling myself with this distinction of the schoolmen, nor acknowledging any truth to be in it, or that they are competent judges of such matters, I say, that if it be true, our author's conclusion is altogether false; for the directive power of the law, which is certain, and grounded upon the inherent good and rectitude that is in it, is that alone which has a power over the conscience, whereas the coercive is merely contingent; and the most just powers, commanding the most just things, have so often fallen under the violence of the most unjust men, commanding the most execrable villanies, that if they were therefore to be obeyed, the conciences of men must be regulated by the success of a battle or conspiracy, than which nothing can be affirmed more impious and absurd. By this rule, David was not to be obeyed, when by the wickedness of his son he was driven from Jerusalem, and deprived of all coercive power; and the conscientious obedience that had been due to him, was transferred to Absalom, who sought his life. And in St. Paul's time it was not from him, who was guided only by the Spirit of God, and had no manner of coercive power, that christians were to learn their duty, but from Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, who had that power well established by the mercenary legions. If this were so, the governments of the world might be justly called "magna latrocinia ;" and men, laying aside all consideration of reason or justice, ought only to follow those, who can inflict the greatest punishments, or give the greatest rewards. But

since the reception of such opinions would be the extirpation of all that can be called good, we must look for another rule of our obedience; and shall find that to be the law, which being, as I said before, "sanctio recta," must be founded upon that eternal principle of reason and truth, from whence the rule of justice, which is sacred and pure, ought to be deduced, and not from the depraved will of man, which fluctuating according to the different interests, humours, and passions, that at several times reign in several nations, one day abrogates what had been enacted the other. The sanction, therefore, that deserves the name of a law, "*which derives not its excellency from antiquity, or from the dignity of the legislators, but from an intrinsic equity and justice,” ought to be made, in pursuance of that universal reason, to which all nations, at all times, owe an equal veneration and obedience. By this we may know, whether he who has the power does justice or not: whether he be the minister of God to our good, a protector of good, and a terror to ill men ; or the minister of the devil to our hurt, by encouraging, all manner of evil, and endeavouring by vice and corruption, to make the people worse, that they may be miserable, and miserable, that they may be worse. I dare not say, I shall never fear such a man, if he be armed with power: but I am sure I shall never esteem him to be the minister of God, and shall never think I do ill if I fear him. If he has, therefore, a coercive power over ine, it is through my weakness; "for the that will † Qui cogi potest, nescit mori.

* Tertul.

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suffer himself to be compelled, knows not how to die." If, therefore, he who does not follow the directive power of the law, be not the minister of God, he is not a king, at least not such a king as the apostle commands us to obey: and if that sanction, which is not just, be not a law, and can have no obligation upon us, by what power soever it be established, it may well fall out, that the magistrate, who will not follow the directive power of the law, may fall under the coercive, and then the fear is turned upon him, with this aggravation, that it is not only actual, but just. This was the case of Nero; the coercive power was no longer in him, but against him. He that was forced to fly, and to hide himself, that was abandoned by all men and condemned to die "according to ancient custom," did, as I suppose, fear, and was no way to be feared. The like may be said of Amaziah king of Judah, when he fled to Lachish; of Nebuchodonosor, when he was driven from the society of men; and of many emperors and kings of the greatest nations in the world, who have been so utterly deprived of all power, that they have been imprisoned, deposed, confined to monasteries, killed, drawn through the streets, cut in pieces, thrown into rivers, and indeed suffered all that could be suffered by the vilest slaves.

If any man say these things ought not to have been done, an answer may be given in a proper place; though it were enough to say, that the justice of the

* More majorum. SUETON. vit. Ner. c. xlix.

world is not to be overthrown by a mere assertion without proof; but that is nothing to the present question for if it was ill done to drive Nero to despair, or to throw Vitellus into the common sewer, it was not because they were the ministers of God; for their lives were no way conformable to the character which the apostle gives to those who deserve that sacred name. If those only are to be feared who have the power, there was a time when they were not to be feared, for they had none; and if those princes are not obliged by the law, who are not under the coercive power, it gave no exemption to those, for they fell under it and as we know not what will befall others who walk in their steps, till they are dead, we cannot till then know whether we are free from it or not.



It is usual with impostors to obtrude their deceits upon men, by putting false names upon things, by which they may perplex men's minds, and from thence deduce false conclusions. But the points above-men

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